Friday, October 31, 2014

Midshipmen Collect 60,504 Pounds of Food for Anne Arundel County

The Midshipman Action Group along with the Naval Academy Chaplains Office collected 60,504 pounds of food for the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank during the 2014 Harvest for the Hungry Food and Funds Drive.

Harvest for the Hungry is an annual food drive sponsored by the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank to help low income families with meals and other basic needs year round.

The Food and Resource Bank not only collects food but other resources like clothes, furniture and other household items to help those in need.

“One in eight families in Maryland and one in three children in Anne Arundel County are food insecure,” said Midshipman 1st Class Gabrielle Dimaapi, Harvest for the Hungry project leader.

USNA and the Midshipman Action Group partnered with Anne Arundel Public Schools for the Harvest for the Hungry: Kids Helping Kids campaign to raise money, food, supplies and awareness for those in need in Maryland. In 2013 midshipmen contributed more two thirds of the total amount of food donated to the food bank. 

MAG collected food during sporting events, held drive competitions throughout the Brigade of Midshipman, and turned the food drive into a friendly competition between companies within the brigade.

“The food drive is important to the county and Maryland. We wanted to make sure the midshipmen wanted to give so we turned it into a friendly rivalry between companies,” said Midshipmen 3rd Class Megan Rosenberger, assist Harvest for the Hungry project leader. “The midshipmen collected food all month long and throughout that month we weighed the food in King Hall at the Anchor.”

The 4th Company "Four Horsemen" won the competition with a total of 2,767 pounds of food.

A food bank truck made repeated trips to the academy to gather the food during the month of October, after learning from last year that one truck was not enough for the midshipmen.

“It is good for the midshipmen to see what they have done to help the community,” said Dimaapi. “A lot of hard work and volunteering went into making this happen and it could not have been done without the help of the brigade. They are the ones to who need to he highlighted.”

With the help of the midshipmen, the food bank distributed more than $1.6 million in food to the needy during fiscal 2013.

See more photos at the USNA Flickr site.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Historic Field Glasses Play a Part in Midshipmen's Research

History and physics combine in a research project being conducted by four Naval Academy midshipmen.

Midshipman 1st Class Ian Sharbel and Midshipmen 2nd Class Karter Martin, Don Puent, and Cyrus Wilson had the chance to use a pair of World War II-era Japanese field glasses yesterday as part of their project. Using the glasses will help the midshipmen determine how much the Japanese could see during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Retired Admiral James Stavridis, currently dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a USNA graduate, was on site to observe the midshipmen at work.

The roughly 70-pound glasses – used on Mount Suribachi during the battle – were recently donated to the Naval Academy Museum. They will be on permanent display in the Iwo Jima exhibit at the museum beginning today.

A documentary on the glasses will be released on the museum’s Facebook page and the museum’s website in December.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Art Collection Donated to Naval Academy

Art collector William I. Koch donated reproductions of ten historical paintings from his maritime collection to the United States Naval Academy Oct 24.

The collection, which will be on display in Smoke Hall, contains paintings depicting various naval vessels and sea battles from the War of 1812.

The collection’s centerpiece, a painting by Thomas Henry depicting close quarters battle between USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon, pays tribute to Captain James Lawrence and the legacy of his dying command, "Don't Give up the Ship" which became a popular battle cry and was adopted by Lawrence's friend, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, as the battle flag on his flagship USS Lawrence.

“Mr. Koch's interest in Lawrence's naval career stems from a shared ancestry with him,” said Sara Philips, Naval Academy architect and project manager for the 2013 “Seas, Lakes and Bay: The Naval War of 1812” art exhibit. “He has a deep respect for the United States Navy and the men and women who serve in it.”

In 2013, the Naval Academy borrowed extensively from Koch's collection and displayed the items in the “Seas, Lakes and Bay: The Naval War of 1812,” art exhibit in Mahan Hall.  Combined with related items from the Naval Academy collection, this exhibit provided a detailed overview of the naval battles in the war and described the impact that this time period had on the future development of the U.S. naval fleet.

The collection will serve as a reminder to the midshipmen of their naval history and heritage, and the sacrifices that were made to protect the nation, according to Koch’s friend, Mr. Roy Bell, a Naval Academy alumnus.

“He knew that in the chill of the morning, at 6 a.m. before reveille, there would be [midshipmen] in here studying and thinking,” said Bell. “He knew at the end of the day when mother Bancroft closed her eyes, there would be students here looking. He wants the midshipman to come across these paintings and know the ultimate sacrifice men like Captain Lawrence have given for this country. He wants them know that freedom isn’t free.”

At the donation ceremony, Wyatt Koch spoke on behalf of his father, stating his father’s donation came because of the contribution the Naval Academy gives our country by developing future leaders for it.

“My father thinks very highly of the United States Naval Academy,” said Koch. “It teaches science, team work, leadership and values. It teaches the fundamentals everyone needs to reach his or her life goals. He is honored to be a part of this wonderful academy. USNA has a great heritage, and every one of these students has a chance to add to that legacy.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

USNA Deputy Commandant Skydives with Midshipman Parachute Team

USNA Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen Marine Col. Bobbi Shea recently went skydiving with the USNA Parachute Team. Here's the video.

Beat Notre Dame Spirit Spot

Directed by MIDN 2/C Rylan Tuohy
Starring MIDN 3/C Stephanie Simon

Monday, October 27, 2014

USNA's International Midshipmen Visit Pentagon

By Midshipman 1st Class Gabriel Tang Ying Kit
Republic of Singapore

Comprising less than 0.02% of the Brigade of Midshipman, the international midshipman are a small and relatively unknown part of the brigade.

These midshipmen hail from 30 countries spread all over the globe and they are on exchange at the U.S. Naval Academy for the entire four years. Upon graduation, they will return back to their country and serve in their Navy – as allies of the United States and mini diplomats for their country.

As part of the exchange experience, these midshipmen had a chance to visit the Pentagon on an educational tour recently. The tour gave them information on the history of the Pentagon, the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, and the importance of the Pentagon as a keystone of the United States military.

The tour commenced with an impressive background and history of the building. It was constructed in 1943 when the War Department (the DoD equivalent back in its time) decided it needed a headquarters in the face of World War II. Did you know that the Pentagon has twice the office space of the Empire State Building? The architecture and structure of the Pentagon is unique, vast, yet it is highly efficient; it takes an individual only seven minutes to cross the entire span of the building.

The tour also took the international midshipmen through the 9/11 memorial.

“It’s very somber – the fact that the Pentagon was a victim of 9/11 is often overlooked. This visit serves as a reminder that the United States military plays a very key role in the defense of not only the United States, but the entire free world as well,” said Midshipman 1/C Supawit Wongissares, from Thailand.

After graduation in May 2015, Wongissares will return to Thailand and hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree in engineering.

The visit to the Pentagon wasn’t just educational for the International Midshipmen Club but also served to reinforce connections and ties between the United States military and its allies from all over the world.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Women of Innovation at USNA

By Midshipman 2nd Class Rachel Busiek

This past weekend USNA hosted a STEM event unlike any other! Roughly 300, 8th-grade girls from the surrounding communities traveled to the Academy for a day of education and design. 

The morning commenced with the girls participating in opening exercises to learn basic scientific principles and interact with each other as many of the girls did not know anyone else at the event.

Following introductions, the young ladies attended two of the numerous modules instructed by Naval Academy professors. Module topics covered a wide range of topics: aquaculture, biometrics, bioterrorism, Calcbots, laparoscopic surgery, rockets, fun with physics, NXT bots, and a pattern recognition module called "Lost at Sea."

Although the event was predominantly targeted at the young girls, they were not the only people attending classes and having fun that morning. While the girls learned about STEM topics, their parents were able to sit in on a variety of lectures that were aimed at optimal development for their children.

The parents' schedule included briefs about "Raising the Whole Girl," nutrition, the benefits of STEM education, college costs and benefits, as well as a leadership panel that was run by the midshipmen who were the leads and helped develop Girls STEM Day: 1/C Jennifer Pendleton, 2/C Rachel Busiek, and 2/C Montana Geimer.

Following a brief lunch break, the parents were released for the day to explore USNA and the surrounding areas; however, the girls applied the knowledge they had learned earlier in the morning during a design competition. The design for this year’s event was focused on "Women of Innovation" with a particular emphasis on leadership.

The girls were divided into teams of three and assigned a task to develop either an amphibious craft that can transit from land to sea while protecting a payload, or an aviation glider that can transit from a launch platform to the ground while protecting a payload. 

Overall, the feedback from the design portion and the day was great! Many young girls bragged about new career goals they had developed as a result of the day’s events and career and educational opportunities they were excited about that they previously did not even know existed.

This type of feedback and response is precisely why the Girl’s STEM Day is hosted each year and continues to be such a success!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

National Society of Black Engineers Hosts Terror Zone Summit

By MIDN 1/C Whitney Morey
President of the USNA National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 

On October 18th my chapter and I had the opportunity to host the Terror Zone Summit, a mini-conference open to all members from chapters in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The summit provided members with a variety of workshops, a lunch-and-learn session, community service, and networking opportunities to the local membership. Though our collegiate chapter has been active since the early 2000s, this was the first chance that our Naval Academy chapter has had the opportunity to truly showcase our school, Navy careers, and most importantly, our community outreach. 

Members arrived at the conference from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland-College Park, and University of Maryland-Baltimore County, as well as the Potomac, Southern, and Baltimore professional chapters. The summit commenced with an opening session, detailing allowing members to introduce themselves.

The first sessions began separating the junior members from the collegiate and professionals.  The junior members were engaged and very interested in their College 101 session where collegiate members paired with junior members to provide advice on what to expect in college, the college application process, the pursuit of STEM majors, and participation in NSBE while in college in order to receive the support and mentorship to succeed and excel in their majors. 

Meanwhile, the collegiate students received information from the professional members on chapter empowerment. They discussed how to motivate and energize their respective chapters in order to decrease membership attrition and increase volunteer outreach, conference and convention attendance, and collaboration with other chapters in order to lend support.

Following the morning sessions, we took a break for lunch where I spoke about the community efforts of the Naval Academy, educated attendees on the Naval Academy lifestyle, and provided application information to the NSBE junior members to generate interest in applying.

The afternoon sessions consisted of collegiate and professional panels, as well as a professionals mixer and tours of the Yard.  The middle school-aged students and ninth graders were ecstatic to see the school and learn more about the academy and the opportunities afforded to its students.  While they toured, the high school and collegiate members separated into breakout groups in different classrooms where they were able to learn from the professionals about leadership skills, pursuit of STEM careers, graduate school application and selection, and transition from military to civilian sector jobs.

We ended with a closing session where much positive feedback was shared regarding the summit, including the professionalism of the midshipmen, the well-spoken public speakers who held panels and sessions, the informative tours provided by the midshipman escorts, the close proximity of breakout groups to the main Mahan Hall, and the beauty and organization of the buildings and classrooms.

The summit was an opportunity for the USNA chapter to establish itself to many of the regional chapters. Additionally, we made great networking connections with the professional chapters of Potomac and Southern who work with Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Air Systems Command as civilian contractors. Overall the event was a great success.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness at the Naval Academy

By MIDN 1/C Annie-Norah Beveridge

Female midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy have been afforded the opportunity to wear skirts with the working blue class uniforms and service dress blues as part of an awareness campaign to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Originally inspired by “Movember,” when male midshipmen are allowed to grow regulation mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness for men’s health, many female midshipmen were motivated to do something to recognize a disease that affects a vast number of women around the world. 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is typically marked by people around the world wearing pink ribbons and National Football League players wearing pink as part of their team uniforms.  Uniform regulations in the Navy and Marine Corps restrict pink adornments on uniforms, so the mids and Brigade staff formulated this idea to get involved.

“Breast cancer is a sensitive subject among most individuals, yet nearly everyone knows someone who has been personally affected by it, said Midshipman 2/C Renata Bucher, the Brigade Sgt. Major and one of the organizers of the effort. “There are definitely times at the Naval Academy when academics, sports practices, briefs, and parades pile up to the point where midshipmen are solely thinking about the Academy and how busy they are in their own personal lives. Raising awareness allows members of the Brigade to focus on something that is affecting hundreds of thousands of individuals across the globe.”

One of the main challenges that had to be overcome during the process was the issue uniform regulations and finding something female mids in the Brigade would support.   

“Finding something additional that women could do/wear on a daily basis that would comply with fleet regulations was a challenge,” said Bucher.  “We tossed around several ideas but wearing skirts to class was the perfect balance of something new to raise awareness while remaining in line with the fleet standards.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekly Intramural Sports Update - Week 5

Under the direction of the Commandant of Midshipmen, the Naval Academy's Intramural Sports program serves as a leadership laboratory within the brigade and offers midshipmen personal development in the operations, officiating and supervision of a variety of intramural sports.

It remains a midshipman-run program, with midshipmen taking part in every aspect of organizing the brigade's athletic competitions.

Each week we will run an updated list of the current standings. Please note, these are the scores as they were when we created this post. We update these scores weekly, but there are games throughout the week. The most recent changes may not be reflected until next week's update.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Masqueraders Working Hard as the Fall Play Approaches

Post by MIDN 3/C Clara Navarro

The oldest Extra Curricular Activity on the yard - the Masqueraders theater troupe - has been hard at work for the past month on this fall’s drama, Brian Friel’s Translations.

The three-act play is set in a small Irish village named Baile Beag in 1833.

The playwright himself once said, “Translations is a play about language and only about language." And yet the play touches on a wide range of issues, stretching from language and communication to Irish history and cultural imperialism.

The Masqueraders have cast ten midshipmen to bring the play to life. They rehearse every day during sports period, working on character development, Irish accents, and movement on stage. This is a fun, creative group of midshipmen with a unique set of skills.

Past productions on the yard have included Arabian Nights, A Streetcar Named Desire, Macbeth and Chaucer in Rome.

The Masqueraders will perform on November 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd at 8:00 pm in Mahan Hall. . All performances are open to the public, and tickets are $12 per person. Tickets can be purchased online through the Music and Theater TicketOffice or by calling 410-293-8497.

In the meantime, check out this video about last year's Masqueraders performance of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Boathouse Bonding”- Competition in the Tradition of Hubbard Hall

Post by MIDN 1/C Molly Hanna

Since the start of their respective fall seasons, the Men’s Heavyweight, Lightweight, and the Women’s Crew teams have participated in a “Boathouse Regatta,” in addition to their normal Saturday morning practices in order to prepare for fall season head races and foster some friendly competition within Hubbard Hall. 

The regatta is roughly 4,000 meters and starts in ‘2-mile’ creek, ending just before the Severn River bridge.  The race is set up so that each crew starts a few seconds after the next, staggered so that there is a fair spacing between the crews and to avoid any potential issues that could arise with the seventeen boats in participation. 

The results are based off a weighted system that compares each crew to their respective standard in order to make for clearer, measurable results.  "The weekly boathouse race creates a fun, competitive atmosphere in the boathouse that helps us fine tune our race mindset in practice” says the women’s team Captain, Midshipman 1/C Brooke Mackno. 

However, despite the outcome of the racing at the end of the morning, one thing is for sure: the three teams are inevitably brought closer together through the race’s competitive nature and the fusion of what roughly seventeen crews have in common:  love of the sport. 

It is these early mornings on the Severn River where hard work and tradition collide.  “The Armada,” as some rowers affectionately refer to the fleet of boats racing back to Hubbard Hall, signifies a tradition dating back to the start of rowing at USNA to the many years of hard work and dedication on the Severn to come. 

Midshipman Mackno expressed her hopes for the upcoming season, stating, “with our first race this weekend and a season full of competitive regattas ahead of us, we look forward to seeing how the boathouse races will continue to prepare us for each of these challenges."  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Naval Academy Hosts Commander, U. S. Fleet Cyber Command

Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command / U.S. 10th Fleet, Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, delivered a lecture on the Defense Department’s cyber warfare program at the U.S. Naval Academy Oct. 16.

USNA’s Center for Cyber Security Studies hosted Tighe as part of their Cyber Lecture Series.

Tighe, a 1984 graduate of the Academy, addressed the midshipmen, faculty and staff at Alumni Hall and spoke about today’s cyber domain. 

“Collectively we have to recognize the reality of cyber threats, including disrupting and destruction of logistics, networks and equipment,” said Tighe. “Recovering from successful attacks can take long periods of time and many man hours.”

According to the DoD, plans are in place to increase their cyber domain security and operations to 6,000 people and 133 teams by 2016 to engage the rapidly evolving environment.

“The more dependent we become in cyber space, the more opportunities criminals and terrorists have to access to our systems,” said Tighe. “Largely, over time these attacks have warped from trying to get information, to disrupting operations. The most destructive attacks have kinetic effects, by gaining access over systems that control physical operating components.”

The Naval Academy began offering cyber operations as a major through the Center for Cyber Security Studies. Twenty-eight members of the class of 2016 are on track to graduate as the “plankowners” in that major.  All midshipmen at USNA are required to take two classes in cyber operations.

Tighe talked about the evolving nature of the cyber domain and the urgent need for users stay informed and educated of the risks and potential consequences of being uninstructed and unfamiliar.

Building that awareness is at the core of the mission of the Center for Cyber Security Studies, enhancing the education of midshipmen in all areas of cyber warfare and facilitating the sharing of expertise and perspectives in cyber warfare from across the Yard.

“What we have to do is limit the amount of exposure our people’s online behavior have towards creating cyber opportunities,” said Tighe. “It’s as small as not plugging in unauthorized equipment into computers attached to networks and systems, to not opening a link on an unrecognized email source. Unaware users are our biggest risk.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Midshipmen Making a Difference at Anne Arundel Medical Center

Post by MIDN 3/C Ray Hernandez

Through the coordination of the Midshipman Action Group (MAG) and the Navy Medicine Club, about 25 Naval Academy midshipmen have been selected to volunteer at the Anne Arundel Medical Center.  

To be part of this program, students are required to fill out an application.  Students chosen to participate devote three hours every other week on Fridays and Sundays to work in different departments within the hospital.

These departments include ER, Heart and Neuro, Pediatric ER, NICU, Clinical, and Patient Visitation.  Students are assigned to their departments for the whole semester.  The goal of this MAG project is to make the lives of the nurses and support staff a lot easier by assisting them with smaller tasks.

Midshipmen benefit from this training by getting exposed to a fast-paced environment, while gaining an appreciation of support services. Five out of the 25 midshipmen are from 16th Company.  MIDN 3/C Sonya Ye, of 16th Company, works specifically with the NICU department and volunteers her time doing smaller tasks such as changing diapers, doing laundry, and preparing milk bottles.

As midshipmen and students, it is difficult to do much more work on top of an already busy schedule, but MIDN Ye appreciates her ability to make the nurses and the hospital staff’s day-to-day routine even the slightest bit more fluid.  She also enjoys getting to know the faculty at Anne Arundel, as well as the long term patients.

The Midshipman Action Group volunteered over 24,000 hours of service during the last academic year.  They spearhead efforts such as Harvest for the Hungry food drive, Mids for Kids and the 2014 bone marrow registration drive.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Weekly Intramural Sports Update - Week 4

Under the direction of the Commandant of Midshipmen, the Naval Academy's Intramural Sports program serves as a leadership laboratory within the brigade and offers midshipmen personal development in the operations, officiating and supervision of a variety of intramural sports.

It remains a midshipman-run program, with midshipmen taking part in every aspect of organizing the brigade's athletic competitions.

Each week we will run an updated list of the current standings. Please note, these are the scores as they were when we created this post. We update these scores weekly, but there are games throughout the week. The most recent changes may not be reflected until next week's update.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Tale of Love, Loss, and Reunion

By Capt Trent Metlen, USMC

History is always selectively written, and our memories are the most personal of history books. Our memories may serve as markers of pivotal points in our past, such as I-Day 2000, the day I entered military life. Memories may also serve as symbols of life truths. One such symbol for me is the Drydock Special. 

The Drydock Special was, and still is, my favorite sandwich. As far as I can remember, it was made with a kaiser roll, three ounces of sliced turkey breast, two slices of pepper jack cheese, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, with sprouts and honey mustard. I actually made a trip to the Naval Academy one year after my graduation just to eat it again; that, and to see my little brother who was a plebe. 

Much to my horror, the Drydock Special was discontinued! I begged the cooks to make it anyway, but the necessary ingredients for the sandwich were no longer on the Drydock purchase list. My favorite sandwich in the world had ceased to exist.  

There was a time in my life when I was convinced that if I really loved something, sooner or later I would leave it behind. This view of life was probably due to having never lived in one state for longer than seven years. When I was two, I moved out of the lead painted, moldy old home that I loved, and although I don’t remember it, my parents claim I was extremely upset. To be fair to my parents, the trailer we moved in to on my grandparents' farm was an upgrade. 

I moved off of said grandparents' farm when I was seven. The hardest part was leaving my cousins with whom I had spent nearly every waking hour. The loss of my cousins sparked a strong sense of nostalgia in me that followed me all the way to the loss of the Drydock Special.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always thought I could go back to the people and places from my past, in order to relive my fondest memories. I visited my cousins, my high school friends, and I bought the ingredients for the Drydock Special, but I was never able to relive the past; especially in the case of the Drydock Special. 

Every time I tried recreating it, I ended up with an abominable insult to the memory of my favorite sandwich. Eventually I came to grips with the unrepeatability of life, and the demise of the Drydock Special served as a symbol to me of past experiences that can never be relived.

Last month something amazing happened. Drydock came out with three sandwiches as a trial for the month of September: The USS Adams, The Russian Ham, and the Old Mule Tackle. In the ingredient list for the USS Adams was the discontinued ingredient whose absence spelled the demise of the Drydock Special, fried mushrooms. 

I saw an opportunity and emailed the manager of Steerage and Drydock, Benjamin Neumann. He graciously agreed to resurrect the Drydock Special and renamed it the “Full-Bird.” My symbol of irretrievable loss will be available in Drydock for the month of October. You may not get the kind of life-altering flashback I expect to have as I bite into that sandwich for the first time in 10 years, but you may appreciate how delicious it is. I urge you to go experience what has become an iconic memory of loss and redemption for me.

One small disclaimer, my memory was wrong! The official ingredients for the Drydock Special, AKA Full Bird, included lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise and did not include sprouts or honey mustard. Apparently I changed it up. I encourage you to try it both ways. Sprouts are no longer available, but Drydock’s honey mustard still tastes the same!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Green Classroom Visits Farm Sanctuary

Post by MIDN 2/C Helena Cheslack­

The Naval Academy’s Green Classroom is an extracurricular activity for midshipmen focused on healthy living and environmentalism. As part of this vision, the members of the group discuss nutrition as well as the effects of commercial food on our health and the health of the environment.

Many of the members are vegetarian or vegan, and their reasons include not only health-consciousness but also respect for animal rights as well as the impact of farming practices on the environment.

Several members of Green Classroom visited Poplar Springs Farm Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland Oct. 5 for their open house. The sanctuary takes in neglected or abused farm animals such as pigs, horses, sheep, goats and chickens. The all-volunteer force cares for the animals and provides them with a comfortable and loving home.

The midshipmen in Green Classroom enjoyed playing with the animals and the vegan food at the event. In the future the group hopes to volunteer on the weekends to help take care of the animals.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Running an Ultramarathon in France

Post by Midshipman 2nd Class Madison Pascale

On September 28th, I completed my first 100-kilometer ultramarathon, and what better location than France? 

It was hilly and painful yet picturesque and breathtaking.  I ran by farms with cows, goats, horses, roosters, pears, apples, olives, berries, and pumpkin patches. I soaked in the beautiful valley scenery above the fog, and also became closer to the French people.

If running 100 kilometers with a bunch of French guys (average age between 45 and 60) doesn't bring you closer to the French culture I don't know what can! I met people from all over France running the race.  I was the youngest and only foreigner participating.

I believe in the 12 hours I spent running, I improved my speaking and listening skills, as well as networked with Frenchmen of many different professions.

I befriended a man named Sebastian who lives in Bain-de-Bretagne, is married with three boys, and works for an international transport company.   Sebastian and I ran together the entire race.  

After the race, I shared a meal with all of the runners and exchanged emails for future communication.  The race hurt – my legs were aching – but the experience was priceless.  The French are incredibly hospitable and they took me under their wing throughout the entire race.

Participating in events such as this race and immersing myself every weekend into the French culture has matured me as an independent traveler, communicator, socializer, and overall has transformed me into a true adult. 

Lastly, the French are incredible runners, perhaps the baguettes and cheese have something to do with it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

USNA Opens the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign Giving Season

Post by CDR William Swick

The 2014 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) giving season officially opened Oct. 6 and will run until Dec. 5.

The mission of the CFC, which was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee-focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all. In 2013, the USNA campaign raised $200,000 for charitable causes around the world.  This year’s goal is $300,000.

 Why Should I Contribute?

The CFC belongs to you. You control where your gift will go. CFC provides DoD personnel a safe and secure means to “pay it forward” and make a difference in the lives of those in need.

The three Cs of giving:

Choice - You get to direct your pledge to the organizations that are closest to your interests. More than 4,000 are listed in the Giving Guide that you can choose from:

Convenience - Workplace giving has advantages. Through the MyPay payroll deduction, you can give more while only having a small amount deducted from each paycheck. Cash, checks and credit card donations are also accepted. Giving is easy via MyPay:

Confidence - Each charity is federally screened. Through the outstanding oversight efforts, less than 10 percent of the funds are spent on campaign materials, training volunteers, and auditing contributions. Because this cost is so low compared with other fundraising campaigns, every dollar of your pledge goes a very long way toward helping others.

You don’t have to go far to find people in need. Many of your family members, friends and neighbors benefit from the services of charities participating in the CFC. Whether it’s advances in medicine provided by research, support for our aging parents, disaster assistance or the opportunity for a child to participate in after school programs, everyone has something to gain by supporting the campaign.  It is on us. Together we will make a difference.

Contact your local CFC representative or CDR Swick for further information.

169 Years of the U.S. Naval Academy: Proud Past … Bright Future

Today marks the official founding of the U.S. Naval Academy.  169 years ago, Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft secured 10 acres of land in Annapolis, Md.

When the founders of the academy were looking for a suitable location, it was reported that then Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft decided to move the naval school to “the healthy and secluded” location of Annapolis in order to rescue midshipmen from “the temptations and distractions that necessarily connect with a large and populous city.”

Through Bancroft’s efforts, the Naval Academy – then called the Naval School – was established at Fort Severn on the shores of the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland, on Oct. 10, 1845. The school boasted a class of 50 midshipmen along with seven professors, and the curriculum included classes in mathematics, navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy and French.

Five years later, the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy. A new curriculum went into effect requiring midshipmen to study at the academy for four years and to train aboard ships each summer. That format is the basis of the curriculum at the Naval Academy today.

 As the U.S. Navy grew over the years, the academy expanded. The campus of 10 acres increased to 338. The original student body of 50 midshipmen grew to a brigade size of approximately 4,500.  Granite buildings replaced the old wooden structures of Fort Severn.

Congress authorized the Naval Academy to begin awarding Bachelor of Science degrees in 1933. The academy later replaced a fixed curriculum taken by all midshipmen with the present core curriculum plus a variety of major fields of study….fields of study today that include Nuclear Engineering, Cyber Operations and Aerospace Engineering.

The development of the United States Naval Academy has reflected the history of the country. As the United States has changed culturally and technologically, so has the Naval Academy, while maintaining its ultimate mission to ready students morally, mentally and physically for future leadership to the Navy, Marine Corps and this nation.

The Academic mission area at the Naval Academy is as strong as ever.  USNA was recently ranked as the #1 Public Liberal Arts school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and was ranked #1 among guidance counselors for recommendation to high school students.

Of the 25 majors currently offered, 19 are in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Twenty-eight midshipmen in the class of 2016 are currently enrolled in the new cyber operations major, serving as the “plankowners” for that major, setting the course as plans are finalized for a future Center for Cyber Security Studies on campus.

The academy’s Community Relations Program has won the Navy’s annual Thompson-Ravitz Award for outstanding shore based community relations two years in a row, largely due to the efforts of the more than 500 midshipmen who volunteer to help the community through the Midshipman Action Group. Last year, the mids contributed more than 24,500 hours of service on both the local and national scale.

Earlier this fall, midshipmen spearheaded a bone marrow drive, collecting 2,014 donations to the C.W. Young DoD Bone Marrow Registry.  They led a community clean-up effort in Annapolis’ Jonas Green Park during the 9/11 National Day of Service, and they have started the effort to best last year’s 60,000+ lb food donation to the Harvest for the Hungry charity.

Athletic competition serves as the foundation for the skills needed for leadership in the Fleet and the Marine Corps, and the opportunities here are unlike any available anywhere else in the country.  With 33 varsity sports, the Naval Academy offers the third largest number of Division I sports teams in the country – behind Ohio State University and Stanford – for a student body of only 4,500. At the Naval Academy, every student participates in athletics. 

USNA continues to excel.  Navy totaled nine Patriot League scholar-athlete of the year award winners during the 2012-13 academic year. The Naval Academy has earned the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy nine of the last 11 years, and has bested Army on the football field 12 straight years.

Moral, mental and physical excellence.  That is the foundation of 169 years of proud legacy on the banks of the Severn River.  And the future looks even brighter. The 1,191 members of the Class of 2018 entered the academy July 1, boasting the largest percentage of women (25%), the highest average SAT scores and largest high school/prep athletic letter recognition of any incoming class.

 The Naval Academy continues on an upward trajectory.  The future is bright.  On this Founder’s Day, we remember names like Franklin Buchanan, Cornelius Stribling, David Porter, William Lawrence and Charles Larson as part of a proud past.  But with eyes fixed firmly on the future, the Naval Academy will continue to meet the demand signal of the fleet for officers of consequence and character.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Letter to My Former Self: ENS Kellie Hall

In the "Letter to My Former Self" series, USNA graduates lay out the advice they would give themselves as midshipmen based on their experiences as junior officers in the Navy or Marine Corps. This week's letter was written by ENS Kellie Hall, who is serving on board USS Pinckney (DDG-91), based in San Diego, California.

Let me be frank:  there is in fact life after the Naval Academy. I am writing this letter from a coffee shop one block from my townhouse and only three blocks from the beach, as I sit and overlook the palm trees that are highlighted by the beautiful San Diego sunset.

While at the Academy I was too distracted by six-week exams, noon meal formations, sports period, company events, and downtown Annapolis to truly reflect on the idea that I would graduate and eventually join thousands of Naval Academy alumni to serve as an officer in the fleet. Being officer is not a myth; it is not some outlandish idea that may or may not happen—it will happen, I promise—and everything that happens after Induction Day truly affects how you will react to it.

I found out two weeks before graduation that I would be meeting my ship for the remainder of its deployment in the Pacific. I read my orders as I was studying for my last final, thinking “deployment will be like an extended midshipman cruise, it’ll be fine.” Little did I know I’d be thrown into USS Pinckney's peak of operations out in 7th Fleet.  On July 4th, I packed my sea bag to the brim and caught a ride to San Diego International Airport to be flown to Guam to meet my ship for her remaining seven weeks out at sea. Welcome to the Navy.

It was this experience that served as the biggest “reality check” in my life and in result, generate these words of wisdom from my short naval career thus far:

You cannot always use the excuse “I’m an Ensign.”

A multitude of officers and mentors at the Academy told me “don’t worry, you’re not expected to know anything as a brand new Ensign.” Within the first twenty-four hours of being on my ship, I was expected to conn. Not just conn from point A to point B, I would be driving the ship during “Guamex,” an exercise with eight Japanese vessels used to help increase interoperability. I quickly realized that I was being trusted as an Ensign to drive the ship (with the help of my Officer of the Deck) and that my role was completely imperative to make “Guamex” a successful exercise. No longer was I conning just an afternoon YP exercise on the Severn before sports period—this was the real thing. The bridge watch team, standard commands, and the Japanese Maritime Defense Force were my harsh, new reality and I was expected to know how to do my job.

Retain the information you learned at the Naval Academy – and keep your notes!

After four years of sitting in a classroom, thinking “When am I ever going to need this information?” I wish I could turn back time and hit myself over the head with a textbook and say, “learn and understand this! You’ll need to know it to look like a competent Surface Warfare Officer!”

I didn’t take my weapons class seriously; I thought it was another check-in-the-box course I needed to get through in the Naval Academy’s curriculum. Navigation was often my last course before the start of my weekend, so my attention span was at its most minimal level. Then there was Thermodynamics, my last real hurdle to jump before graduation. Little did I know that these three classes are the foundation to everything a Surface Warfare Officer will need to know. Nothing is worse than trying to qualify for your SWO pin and realizing that you’ve seen all the information before, you just didn’t retain it the first time. I had many palm-to-forehead moments during my deployment when I was asked questions about radar, the AC cycle, or how to calculate “PIM” that I legitimately couldn’t remember but at one point—before the final exam at the Academy—I did. Don’t let this be you.

My commanding officer often reminded me the reason why those two gold bars set me apart from the rest of the ship. He said, “There’s a reason why you make the big bucks. You’re not paid to listen, you’re paid to think. And you must think about what’s best for the ship.” I was motivated to learn and relearn what I once forgot because my lack of experience and knowledge was only hurting our ship’s mission.

Play to your strengths.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best Surface Warfare officer there is. I find myself flustered when the OOD asks me what sound signal I should utilize or what day shapes need to be up during an underway replenishment. I’m not the fastest to learn and at 5’2 and 100lbs I can’t necessarily pull off the intimidating-authority figure persona. But at the end of the day I know I can do one thing right: utilize my experience in public affairs to publicize the ship’s successes.

My assignment as my ship’s Public Affairs Officer has been a true blessing so far because it has given me an opportunity to showcase my biggest strengths to my Commanding and Executive officers, as well as the rest of the wardroom and crew. There is no task I am assigned as PAO that is too big or too small that I won’t try to knock out of the park. I write articles, take pictures, organize media events, and even orchestrated my ship’s participation in Fleet Week San Diego. Even though I struggle as a SWO, at least I have one way to prove I’m still competent.

If you are good at something, showcase it. It will help give you the confidence boost you need to push through the stress of being a new ensign.

Be ready to juggle personal and professional issues.

From the Academy I moved to San Diego and quickly realized I needed to take out my own trash, cook my own food, and pay bills. I still struggle to scramble eggs yet I’m trusted by the Navy to drive a multi-billion dollar warship.

Everything since graduation day has been a challenge, whether it was putting together IKEA furniture or conning behind an aircraft carrier at night in the rain. Even though I may not have retained the physics, calculus, or rules-of-the-road knowledge from the Academy I did learn how to multi-task, be disciplined, and stay organized. For this, I will forever be grateful for the Academy and the harsh lessons I had to learn then in order survive in the fleet now.

Luckily, the Navy does not foster a “sink or swim” atmosphere. But, if you find yourself sinking and your stress flowing overboard, I promise you there will be someone to sound those five short blasts and order an Anderson turn to help get you back on course.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Midshipman Action Group Honored for Record Donation

Post by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Caswell

The Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank honored the U.S. Naval Academy’s Midshipman Action Group (MAG) for contributing more than 61,000 pounds of food during the 2013 Harvest for the Hungry Food and Funds Drive.

Mr. Bruce Michalec (left), director of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank gives
a plaque of recognition to Ensign Soon Kwon, Midshipman 1st Class Gabby
DiMaapi, and Midshipman 3rd Class Megan Rosenberger for their work with
the 2013 Harvest for the Hungry campaign.

The Maryland Department of Education-sponsored campaign encourages donations of money and food to help families in need of assistance. The median income for people in the workforce of Anne Arundel County is $41,876 and when that amount is tied to the Maryland self sufficiency standard of $58,048, there remains a gap of $16,172.

In the last six years, Anne Arundel County has contributed the most donations of all the state’s counties, and MAG contributed more than two-thirds of the 91,000 pounds collected in 2013.

“Maryland has more than 28,000 people who are food insufficient, a third of those being children,” said Teresa Tudor, Harvest for the Hungry coordinator. “The amount of food Midshipmen collected truly helped thousands of families make sure they could feed their children every meal. We would not be as successful without the partnership with USNA and the Midshipman Action Group.”

MAG collected food during sporting events, held drive competitions throughout the Brigade of Midshipman, and brought last year’s total donation to more than donations from 2011 and 2012  combined.

“Midshipmen sacrifice their limited free time to give back to the community.” said Ensign Soon Kwon, a 2013 USNA graduate who coordinated last year’s drive. “In addition to volunteering to serve their country, Midshipmen are giving more than what anyone has asked for by volunteering and donating.”

With one of the harshest winters on record, MAG engaged the brigade and Naval Academy chaplains to collect record donations of food to replenish food bank shelves for those most in need in the community.

“It was a season when the shelves were bare due to weather-related need and a county-wide drop in food donations,” said Miriam Stanicic, USNA’s community relations director. “Stepping in to fill that food gap was the goal that was set and met by the Naval Academy family with tremendous food deliveries, truckload after truckload. Service to the community at large is what the Naval Academy is all about.”

After a week of trucks transporting food from USNA, MAG contributions largely filled the Food Resource Bank’s 3,750 sq. foot facility.

“When the Anne Arundel County Food Bank said that the total food collected at the Naval Academy filled half of their large facility, Midshipmen were proud that more families in Anne Arundel County had the opportunity to receive more food than the years before,” said Kwon.

MAG will continue its efforts by supporting the Harvest for the Hungry: Kids Helping Kids Campaign which is slated to run from Oct. 13 through Oct. 31. For more information visit

Monday, October 6, 2014

Weekly Intramural Sports Update - Week 3

Under the direction of the Commandant of Midshipmen, the Naval Academy's Intramural Sports program serves as a leadership laboratory within the brigade and offers midshipmen personal development in the operations, officiating and supervision of a variety of intramural sports.

It remains a midshipman-run program, with midshipmen taking part in every aspect of organizing the brigade's athletic competitions.

Each week we will run an updated list of the current standings:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

USNA Mid Featured in Smithsonian Exhibit

A Naval Academy midshipman is featured in an exhibit that opened Sep. 3 at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit honors the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act, and Midshipman 3rd Class Jose Arroyo’s experience working in the wilderness illustrates what the Smithsonian is calling “Human Connections with Nature.”

Arroyo grew up in Yonkers, New York. He was assigned to a Child and Family Services caseworkers for most of his life, attended multiple schools, even spending part of his childhood homeless. As a high school teenager looking for work, he got a job with Groundwork Hudson Valley and spent a summer building trails in Virginia and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. His work led him to a youth conference near Pike’s Peak in Colorado.

The experience changed him and set him on a new path of service and wilderness stewardship.

The following summer he worked with the Wilderness Society’s Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, using hand tools to repair wilderness trails in the mountains of North Carolina. As a result of his work, he was asked to go to Washington D.C. to speak to members of Congress about environmental legislation and how to get kids in the cities involved in the natural world.

Arroyo entered the Naval Academy in July 2013 after a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School. 

“This exhibit is showing this is something that happened to this kid from an urban setting. This is what the 1964 Wilderness Act has done, here’s one of the things it’s accomplished,” said Arroyo.

Arroyo tells a story about his experience climbing Pike’s Peak and how it changed his outlook.

“I was the only one out of all the youth who climbed it. I got to the top and saw a sunset, and I was reflecting on my life and looking at absolute beauty. I can’t really explain it. It was just a feeling,” he said.

When he came back east and saw some of the exploitation of that wilderness, Arroyo said it broke his heart.

“That’s why I’m so passionate about it,” he said.

The exhibit, which features wilderness photographs selected from more than 5,000 public entries, will run until summer 2015.

You can learn more about Midshipman Arroyo’s story in this video by the Wilderness Society.